Pallekele: Disciplined innings from former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar saw India defeating Sri Lanka by three wickets in a thrilling second One-Day International here on Thursday
Chasing a revised target of 231 due to rain, India were cruising at 108 for no loss in the 16th over. But the match turned on its head in a space of six overs as the visitors lost seven wickets for just 22 runs.
All-rounder Akila Dananjaya created havoc in the India’s batting line-up as he scalped six wickets in his 10 overs.
But then Dhoni (45 not out) and Bhuvneshwar A(53 not out) forged a match-winning partnership to seal the deal for India.
India now lead the five match series 2-0. The visitors had defeated Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the ODI at Dambulla.
Indian openers Dhawan and Rohit started the chase perfectly by forging a 109-run partnership. The duo slammed Sri Lankan bowlers all around the park. In the process, Rohit completed his half-century. But after adding four more runs, the Mumbai batsman was adjudged leg before wicket off Dananjaya.
Trying to be aggressive, Dhawan mistimed a shot and fell prey to Milinda Siriwardana in the very next over.
All eyes were on new batsmen Lokesh Rahul, Kedar Jadhav and Virat Kohli, but the trio failed to rise to the expectations and were dismissed by Dananjaya in the same over at scores of 1., 4 and 4 respectively.
With half of the side back to the pavilion, it was now on Dhoni and all-rounder Hardik Pandya but the the latter disappointed as he was also dismissed by Dananjaya after three overs with no runs to his credit.
With chances of winning looking sleek, Bhuvneshwar then joined Dhoni in the middle and played sensibly. The duo forged a 100-run partnership and finished the proceeding with more than two overs to spare.
Earlier, sensible innings from Siriwardana (58) and Chamara Kapugedera (40) helped Sri Lanka score 236/8. But due to rain, the target was revised to 230.
Apart from the duo, opener Niroshan Dickwella (31) contributed to the cause for the hosts.
After going down in the first ODI by nine wickets, Sri Lanka regrouped their strategy in this game and started off on a positive note but some poor shot selection from the in-form and experienced players resulted in their downfall in the middle overs.
However, Siriwardana and Kapugedera played the ball to its merit to stabilise the innings. But after the fall of the latter’s wicket, the lower-order failed to provide the much required support and, thus, the hosts only managed to score a chaseable target.
On the other hand, Indian bowlers stepped up to the occasion in the overcast conditions and chipped in with vital wickets at regular intervals. The fielding was also up to the mark.
After India won the toss and put the Islanders in to bat, the hosts crossed the 40-run-mark in the eighth over but then Dickwella was sent back to the pavilion. Soon Danushka Gunathilaka, who troubled the visitors in the first ODI, was dismissed by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Once again the middle-order got exposed soon and experienced players Upul Tharanga (9) and Angelo Mathews (20) were dismissed by Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel, respectively.
But just when things seemed poor for the hosts, Siriwardana and Kapugedera displayed their temperament and forged the crucial runs for their team. After giving a tough fight in the middle, the duo was, however, sent packing by Jasprit Bumrah.
Then the lower-order batsmen — ananjaya (9), Dushmantha Chameera (6) and Vishwa Fernando (3) — once again failed to make their mark and Sri Lanka only managed to score 236 in their allotted 50 overs.
For India, pacer Bumrah scalped four wickets while leg-spinner Chahal took two.